Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Xcode File Templates and a Mystery

One of the things that confuses many newcomers to Xcode is how to set it up so that your company name gets automatically filled in when you create a new file using one of the file templates. The company name value is based on a parameter that is not exposed through the Xcode's preferences or through the System Preferences GUI. The only way that I know of to set this is to execute a single line in the Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.Xcode PBXCustomTemplateMacroDefinitions '{ORGANIZATIONNAME = "My Company Name";}'


The mystery here, for me, is that my files are getting created with an organization name, though I've never actually set the organization name on this machine. I do work for several clients, and just never bothered to set it. Only, I noticed today that the value is set. It didn't used to be - I have many source code files to attest to that. Not only that, but it is set to the Organization value that I used on my ADC membership. I find that very odd and have no idea what's going on.

Customizing File Templates


Anyway, since I'm on the topic, did you know that you can also change the file templates to contain whatever information you want? You probably did, but in case you don't know how to go about it, I'll shed a little light on the matter. There are many tutorials floating around the Intertubes on this subject, but you might find it hard to follow some of them. The file template locations have changed a couple of times recently. Most tutorials you find will direct you to templates located here:
/Library/Application Support/Apple/Developer Tools/File Templates

Only, they're not there any more, at least on my install of Leopard. It's possible that they might be there on your system if you didn't do a clean install of Leopard (don't know either way, just saying it's possible), but the default location now is:
/Developer/Library/Xcode/File Templates

But, if you look there, you'll notice a conspicuous absence, which is that there are no iPhone file templates anywhere to be found. The iPhone-specific file templates are located inside the iPhone platform folder:
/Developer/Platforms/iPhoneOS.platform/Developer/Library/Xcode/File Templates

Now, generally, it's a good idea not to mess with the original files. So, if you want to change a file template, you should copy it to ANOTHER location. But it has to be in a location where Xcode will find it. The base location for user templates, which will override any of the templates in the System, Library, or Developer folder, is:
~/Library/Application Support/Apple/Developer Tools/File Templates/

Most of you know that ~ indicates your home folder, but I'm mentioning it on the off chance that somebody doesn't. Anyway, if you want to customize an existing file template, your file must match the directory hierarchy of the file you are replacing. So, for example, if you want to customize the UIView Subclass template, you would copy the folder:
/Developer/Platforms/iPhoneOS.platform/Developer/Library/Xcode/File Templates/Cocoa Touch Classes/UIView subclass.pbfiletemplate/

to the location:
/Developer/Platforms/iPhoneOS.platform/Developer/Library/Xcode/File Templates/Cocoa Touch Classes/UIView subclass.pbfiletemplate/

Once you've done this, you can then then open the template files contained in the UIView subclass.pbfiletemplate folder in a text editor. You can add a copyright statement or license or whatever you need written on every source file you create. Any changes you make will roll into any new files you create using the selected file template, though it won't affect existing files.

The following substitution variables will get be replaced with context- or date- specific information when you create a file using the template:

«DATE»
«DIRECTORY»
«ORGANIZATIONNAME»
«PROJECTNAME»
«PROJECTNAMEASIDENTIFIER»
«TIME»
«USERNAME»
«FULLUSERNAME»
«YEAR»

Those characters you see surrounding the substitution variables are not two greater-than or less-than symbols, those are unicode characters called guillemets (which are used similarly to quotation marks in several languages). If you change the file encoding when you save, or if you change the guillemets to greater-than or less-than symbols, the substitution won't work. Copy and paste is your friend here, but if you need to type them type "«" as Option-Backslash and "»" as Option-Shift-Backslash (Backslash is the one above the return key on most keyboards, not the one that shares a key with the question mark).

Note: Project templates work similarly, but are more complex.




5 comments:

Peter N Lewis said...

Thanks for that information.

I'm always loath to mess around with default settings though, even in a "safe" method like this. For example, what if I make a new UIViewController template and then next version Apple updates Xcode to add some extra feature to the template (eg extra commented out methods in the .m file).

My solution (coloured as it is by the fact that I write Keyboard Maestro) is to use a macro to generate the header. I simply double click the file name in the header and hit a hot key and it replaces the seven lines of template header with my own version. This also means I can use a nicely formatted date (eg "Thu 30 Oct 2008").

It is a shame that the header part is not in its own template file, because the only part that you want to customize is the header comment (which would also mean the Mac and iPhone templates would not have different commenting styles!).

Joe said...

I think the ORGANIZATIONNAME will also get populated if your user's contact in Addressbook.app has a Company name. This will take precedence over the defaults value set.

ScottYelich said...

copy the directory /Developer/Platforms/iPhoneOS.platform/Developer/Library/Xcode/File Templates/Cocoa Touch Classes/UIView subclass.pbfiletemplate/ to the location /Developer/Platforms/iPhoneOS.platform/Developer/Library/Xcode/File Templates/Cocoa Touch Classes/UIView subclass.pbfiletemplate/
?

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